South Africa's road death toll a 'national crisis'

Almost 135 000 people have died in road crashes in SA over the past decade

Police car lights. File picture
Police car lights. File picture
Image: Pixabay.com

South Africa’s road death toll for 2017 is one of the worst in years‚ despite safety campaigns to end the carnage.

“Current road safety initiatives are simply not working‚” said the Automobile Association (AA) on Tuesday.

Almost 135 000 people have died in road crashes in South Africa over the past decade - equivalent to wiping out the entire population of Midvaal municipality in Gauteng.

Road fatality statistics for 2017‚ made available by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) on their website last Friday‚ showed that urgent road safety interventions were needed in the country‚ said the AA.

According to the statistics‚ 14 050 people died in road crashes in South Africa in 2017. The death toll was marginally lower than the 14 071 people who died in road crashes in 2016 but still higher than any year from 2008 to 2015.

Preliminary Easter road fatality statistics‚ released by Transport minister Blade Nzimande‚ are 14% up over the same period last year.

“Seen against the backdrop of the fatality statistics of the past 10 years (from 2008) these numbers prove that current road safety initiatives are simply not working.

"Since then‚ almost 135 000 people died in road crashes in South Africa. This is a shocking number which‚ without urgent intervention‚ genuine commitment from all role-players‚ and a complete change in the attitude of all road users‚ will never significantly decrease‚” said the AA.

Stabilising the fatality rate at just over 14 000 deaths per annum was unacceptable and should be seen as a national crisis‚ said the association‚ which suggested a safety focus on pedestrians that included:


• Creating a safer environment for pedestrians to commute‚ especially on busy roads
• Extensive nationwide pedestrian education campaigns‚
• An increase in reliable‚ safe public transport‚
• A swifter introduction of crash avoidance technology in vehicles‚ and‚ 
• Encouraging employers to make their staff more visible while walking‚ and to offer road safety education.

Reducing pedestrian fatalities by half will bring down the national figures by almost 20%
AA

“Reducing pedestrian fatalities by half will bring down the national figures by almost 20% (around 2 700 lives)‚ a significant drop which will provide an immediate impact to reducing national fatality statistics‚” said the AA.

Road users – pedestrians‚ cyclists and motorists – needed to realise that government could do only so much to improve road safety and reduce the number of fatalities on the roads.

“Unfortunately too many South Africans have an extremely bad attitude towards safe road use‚ and all the education and enforcement in the world will not stop those intent on playing by their own rules. Without a change of attitude among road users – and‚ importantly‚ a respect for the law - efforts to decrease fatalities and crashes by a noticeable margin will fall flat‚” said the association.

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